Time to declare what already is
'So there is something of a voluntary character to the moves of Abu Mazen and the ruling council in Iraq. They deserve to be given a chance: not a chance from America or from the West but from the Palestinian people and the Iraqi people, from the Arab emotions that are not yet ready to surrender.'
Hello, Mr. Richard Kalish, from California. In an e-mail message you sent three days ago, and in previous messages, you wondered whether there are Palestinian or Arab voices that speak out in support of peace.
You wanted to know whether a free debate is taking place among the Palestinians or the Arabs. Because it's well known, as you wrote, that those who call for peace with Israel are considered collaborators in the eyes of the armed Palestinians who make use of their weapons instead of engaging in dialogue.
Are there such supporters of peace, you asked, or are these people whom the Palestinians use to manipulate world public opinion. In your last message, you asked me to recommend reading material so that you will be better able to understand their thinking. I made an extra effort. I have translated for you the bulk of an article by one of the important Arab thinkers:
"What do Abu Mazen and the ruling coalition in Iraq have in common? The hasty answer is: the United States is pleased with both of them. The even hastier answer is: both of them are an American creation. But the deeper answer maintains that both of them are declaring the end of a stage that no one wants to announce ... This is the stage in which politics could be colored in violence or policy founded on violence."
The important publicist and cultural researcher Hazem Sariya, whose opinions appear in the international Arabic paper Al Hayat, which is published in London and is disseminated throughout the Middle East, does not let up: "Why hasn't anyone declared the end of this stage? Because such a declaration means the surrender of the declaring side. The Arab regimes do not possess sufficient legitimacy to declare this, and they are not willing to pay the price of the declaration: resigning power. The absence of transparency, the expectation that the regime be accountable to Arab society and to deprive internal forces of the possibility of demanding such a declaration from the regime. There is no surrender in our cultural history. Surrender for us is related to shame, to manliness and to honor. Our military commanders may sign shameful agreements, but our political leaders continue to say they have won ... Our intellectuals continue to disseminate a victorious consciousness, which quickly becomes agreed popular culture.
"In 1956, Egypt imposed a blackout on the news of the military victory and instead played up the political victory. In 1967, we 'won' in six days because the 'masses' prevented Abdel Nasser from resigning and the 'old regimes' did not fall ... At the same time, since the mid-1960s, Yasser Arafat has controlled Palestinian policy without even once closing the two fingers that declare victory [the V sign]. Non-recognition and non-surrender have proved very costly to the Arab peoples. Civil wars have erupted. Economies have been destroyed. Talents have emigrated. Investments were blocked. Tyranny has spread. It was necessary for someone to appear among us who would say farewell to this whole method ... who would take on himself to end what has already ended. To start what has already started. So there is something of a voluntary character to the moves of Abu Mazen and the ruling council in Iraq. They deserve to be given a chance: not a chance from America or from the West but from the Palestinian people and the Iraqi people, from the Arab emotions that are not yet ready to surrender." Thus ends the editorial written by Sariya.
Sariya is here writing what many are thinking. His is a lucid, penetrating voice in contrast to the farce that occurred on Sunday in Cairo, when the foreign ministers of the Arab League were trying to decide whether to send a force to keep order in Iraq, recognize or not recognize the provisional Iraqi government and whether or not to give it a seat in the Arab League. "They haven't yet understood that the Arab League has been dying for a long time," an Egyptian publicist observed.
I hope, Mr. Kalish, that this answers your questions, at least in part, and I especially hope that you don't mind my replying to you in this way.